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THE Tumbarumba to Rosewood rail trail will never be built, according to an advocate for rural landholders affected by proposed trails in the Riverina.
The proposed Tumbarumba-Rosewood rail trail is one of two projects being considered as a pilot project by the state government.
But Alan Brown, a Borambola farmer who has rail corridor passing through his property, said a condition of the government providing up to $5 million for each project was overwhelming support from affected landholders.
He claims there is no support, a view rejected by the chairman of Riverina Highlands Rail Trail Incorporated, Owen Fitzgerald.
“It is going nowhere unless there is overwhelming landholder support, and there is none,” Mr Brown said.
He said he had attended public rail trail forums throughout the region and the same lack of support was evident at Tarcutta and in Gundagai Shire, where a rail trail between Coolac and Tumblong is being mooted.
Mr Brown said the big difference between NSW and Victoria – where there are many rail trails – is that when train lines were rolled out in Victoria the 19th and early 20th centuries they were built alongside roads, so few landholders were affected.
“The roads tended to follow the best geography, so the railways followed the roads,” Mr Brown said.
“But in NSW, they wandered through districts to pick up as many communities as possible.
“What you have is rail corridors all over the countryside buried in private land.”
Mr Brown said landholders had serious concerns about biosecurity, privacy and control of weeds, and even things like dogs owned by walkers and riders eating fox baits.
“Anyone with sheep in this area is paranoid about footrot, lice and disease in general,” Mr Brown said.
“It (a rail trail) is an additional entry point to every property.”
Mr Brown said farmers would be expected to maintain rail trail fences.
Mr Fitzgerald said there was landholder support for the rail trail.
“Alan Brown is behind the times, he has lost track,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“Some of the largest landholders are for it.”
Mr Fitzgerald said his group hoped to hear about the pilot project funding from the state government “any day now”.
“The consultation process is over until we begin construction.”
Mr Brown said he was a supporter of the rail trail concept in the right locations.
“They are an excellent means of recreation and I applaud the government for making funding available for rail trail development in NSW, but the key thing is to find a suitable location for rail trails, and the three (being looked at) in this area are not suitable,” Mr Brown said.
“There is no argument about the concept of rail trails, it’s where you put them.”
This article first appeared on www.therural.com.au
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